Some find it useful to think of relapse more as a slip, or setback. It’s time to pick yourself back up and continue down the road to recovery. The truth is relapse is a part of the recovery process for many. Relapse can teach you a valuable lesson that could help you strengthen your relapse prevention plan. Some individuals may struggle with facing the fact that they did have this slip. Do not feel as if you’ve failed, look at your relapse as a lesson and move forward. The following are steps you may find useful after a relapse.
Accept that you have relapsed, stay away from blaming others for your slip. A big part of recovery is admitting your wrong doings and taking responsibility for your own actions. Try to recognize what it is that made you feel like using again. Remember, mistakes do happen. It is important to act immediately after recognizing that you have relapsed. You may find clarity in addressing the relapse right after it happens and be reassured that your relapse will not continue to bring you further downhill. Your first step should be to notify your sponsor or a concerned significant other, they may not be as surprised as you would like for them to be. They have more than likely recognized your relapse signs before you did. If you have a hard time getting the words out, you can send a text or email if you find this to be an easier way of communicating your slip. When you tell someone right away you are admitting that you made a mistake and expressing a desire to change.
If your relapse lasted more than a few days, you may want to ask yourself if you will experience withdrawal symptoms. If you have experienced withdrawal symptoms in the past after attempting to quit using drugs or alcohol you may want to consider checking yourself into an outpatient or inpatient detox program. You will have supervision of trained addiction professionals to help you get back on track. You may also find comfort being in a detox facility if this means your withdrawal symptoms will be kept at bay, which means you won’t have to consider using just to stop the discomfort you might go through.
Start to perform an inventory of why you slipped once the immediate crisis is over. Think back to the days leading up to the relapse, what were your triggers or red flags? Sometimes a family member or outside observer can help reveal some things you may have missed. Be thorough and honest with yourself while collecting your thoughts. Be wise enough to let this knowledge help you grow.
Forgive yourself and move forward, many people struggle with forgiving themselves after their relapse. Letting go is the only way to move forward in recovery. Feelings of guilt can accumulate and become a trigger for relapse; don’t let the past haunt you.
It’s important to remember that the slip does not mean you are a failure, this is a lesson learned. Some steps you may decide to take may remind you of the beginning of your road to recovery and it may make you resistant and feel as if you’re starting over. Remember that things will not be exactly the same as they were; you have made your mistake and have learned what you can do to avoid relapse in the future.